Gurdwara polls a test for Sheila, Badals

As campaigning for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections ended on Friday, 265 candidates were confirmed for Delhi 46 wards. The polls may be a litmus test for the Sheila Dikshit government, which is preparing for the upcoming Assembly elections, and the Badals of Punjab, who have camped in Delhi for the last 10 days, in a bid to take control of the DSGMC after 12 years.

The elections will witness a direct tussle between the Congress-backed Sarna faction, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) and the Badal-backed SAD (Badal) under Manjit Singh. Sources said Congress MLA Tejinder Singh Marwah, who resigned as Parliamentary Secretary last year, would fight elections in at least 17 wards under the banner of Kendriya Guru Singh Sabha (KGSS).

While Sarna and Manjit Singh have floated candidates in all 46 wards, the KGSS will contest elections in 17 wards and the Shiromani Akali Dal (UK) will contest in nine wards. Sources said the remaining candidates are independents.

DSGMC is the most powerful Sikh body after Punjab's Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). The election was announced after the Supreme Court issued directions last year.

G P Singh, director of Gurdwara Elections on Friday said campaigning ended at 5 pm and political functionaries or party workers were not allowed to leave their wards. "Police have been authorised to ensure that the instructions are carried out. We will not allow anything to undermine free and fair polls," Singh said.

Of the 12 lakh Sikhs in Delhi, at least 8 lakh registered voters are expected to exercise their franchise on Sunday to choose a committee which will preside over several religious, educational and medical institutions in the national capital.

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